Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Glorious Autumn Barbecue: Ras El Hanout and Za’atar Grilled Salmon, Chargrilled Vegetables in Yogurt Tahini Sauce, Tabouleh

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff

The aromas of burning charcoal, a mélange of spices and the trail of sizzling meat hanging in the air are, for me, the telltale signs of seasons turning and summer is just around the corner. Each year, as Spring days begin to warm up, I impatiently await the piquant fragrance to fill the neighborhood. I am not alone, I soon realize, as the neighboring gardens become a hive of industrious activity. The barbecues are brought out of hibernation and rubbed clean for another season filled with succulent marinated meats, sausages and vegetables.

At this time of the year however, when the summer warmth dwindles into a crisp, cool Autumn morning and the days begin to get shorter I see those barbecues, which dutifully and laboriously entertained us throughout a summer of friends, family and relaxing evenings, being packed and banished at the back of the shed.

The early Autumn days have been glorious and before we pack away our barbecue for the season I wanted one last hurrah, so to speak. Friends are invited, the table is set, cocktails mixed and a theme is picked, we wanted to celebrate the last barbecue of the year and look forward to the next one with eagerness. I usually set a theme and this time I picked Middle Eastern flavors, combining spices, herbs and ingredients that are well known in the Arabic countries.

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff

A rosy pink salmon was filleted and marinated in an exquisite spice blend using ras el hanout and in the distinct herb flavored Za’atar. Vegetables like fennel, aubergine and sweet peppers were slathered in a nutty tahini sauce and a salad of mint and parsley added a refreshing highlight. Roasted, crispy potatoes sprinkled with ground cumin, coriander and sumac accentuate the meal further.

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff


How to Grill Fish
Hamburgers, steaks and sausages are all common fare on the grill however, when it comes to grilling fish, many people tend to shy away for a variety of reasons; fish can be expensive, it can fall apart, it is hard to tell when it is done. There a few very simple tips and tricks to follow and once you master them you will discover a whole new facet to barbecuing.

  • One of the challenges when grilling fish is getting a crispy charred exterior while ensuring that the fish will be soft, juicy and cooked all the way through. Fish that has a texture like beef can be grilled directly on the grate Tuna, salmon, halibut, and swordfish are all robust fish which will keep shape during the grilling process. More delicate fish, such as tilapia, sole, and flounder, often work better when grilled in a foil packet or a grill basket.
  • One of the trickiest aspects of grilling fish on the grate is making sure that the fish does not stick to the grate. Make sure the fish is dabbed dry with paper towels, the heat of the grill is at the right level - medium-high and the grill is well prepared and clean.
  • Turn the heat on the grill to high and prepare the grill grate. First and foremost make sure that your grill grate is as clean as possible. Loosely cover the grate with aluminum foil. The intense heat will cause the debris to break down and dissolve, which will minimize sticking. At its highest heat, this should only take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the fish from the fridge. If the fish has been marinating dab off access moisture with paper towels. Otherwise lightly brush both sides with oil and season with coarse salt and cracked black peppercorns and spices. Place the fish skin-side down diagonally on the grate. This not only creates those appetizing grill marks you, it also makes it easier to flip the fish because it's on an angle.
  • Do not move the fish until the skin side has a nice sear and looks crisp. if you are unsure, try gently lifting the fish with a fine-edged spatula after a few minutes. If it does not  lift off the grate easily, allow it cook a bit longer and check at 20-second intervals until it does.
  • Forget the tongs! To flip the fish without breaking it I like to use two fine-edged long grilling spatulas and lift the fish fillet from both sides and flip it. Tom on the other hand prefers using two forks. The fork tines fit nicely between the grill bars and the fish fillets can gently lifted up, then turned over. The meat should be firm to the touch, flake easily with a fork, and appear opaque all the way through.

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff

With these tips and tricks I am sure you will be grilling fish perfectly each time, without any fear.
Infusing the fish with additional flavors adds variety and can be done without much effort. It can be as simple as laying a bunch of herbs onto your grill grates. Then simply grill the fish on top of the herbs and flip as usual or whipping up a quick marinade of spices and oils. If you are marinating fish make sure you only marinate it for about 15 to 30 minutes, any longer at it will start curing.


For my Middle Eastern fish barbecue I used the alluring spice blend Ras El Hanout and Za’atar to marinate the salmon fillets in two ways. With the creamy chargrilled vegetables in the luscious tahini yogurt sauce and a the tangy and herby tabouleh the flavors of the evening were intriguing and comforting.


Recipe: Tabouleh

Printable version of recipe here

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 bunches of flat leaf parsley, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
  • 4 small spring onions, finely sliced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
  • large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 60-80g burghul wheat, cooked
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Place parsley, tomatoes, spring onions, mint and burghul in a large bowl. Salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl stir lemon juice, olive oil together and pour over the tabouleh. Toss well and season if required.


Notes:
The burghul wheat is usually added sparsely at a traditional Arabic mezzeh. I add a bit more in this recipe to give the salad a bit more substance and as an alternative to potatoes. Reduce the burghul to a small handful or even omit it completely if you would like to serve this a a salad or as part of a mezzeh.

 Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff


Recipe: Chargrilled Vegetables with Garlic Yogurt Tahini Sauce

Printable version of recipe here

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 each red and yellow bell peppers
  • 3 medium zucchinis, sliced lengthways about 0.5cm thick
  • 1 aubergine, sliced thickly in about 1cm slices
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced lengthways
  • 1good pinch of sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • A good glug of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 to 3 springs each of rosemary, thyme and oregano, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 200g thick Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 120g pine nuts, toasted
  • Pomegranate arils from 1 pomegranate

Method:

  1. Place the whole peppers on a hot grill and allow them to get really black on all sides. Using tongs, put them in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool.
  2. Grill the zucchini and fennel together on the barbecue on each side until nicely charred. You don’t want them too black or too raw, they need to have a slight bite to them. Transfer to a clean tea towel in one layer, making sure they are not layered on top of each other, as this will steam them and make them soggy.
  3. Chargrill the aubergine slices, turning them until nicely marked, then transfer to the tea towel.
  4. Carefully rub off the black skin from the peppers, then remove the stalk and pips and cut them into large strips. Now put all the vegetables into a large bowl.
  5. Place the herbs in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of seasoning until you have a smooth pulp. Add the extra virgin olive oil and mix. Pour the herb mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat the vegetables in the flavored oil.
  6. Stir the lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic into the Greek yogurt, Add the tahini paste and season to taste. Mix well.
  7. Pile the vegetables on a large platter, then spread the yogurt-tahini sauce over the vegetables. Scatter with the toasted pine nuts and pomegranate arils.

Notes: This is a great make-ahead dish as it can be served either warm or at room temperature. As an alternative to the grill the vegetables can be easily roasted in the oven too.

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. WolffFall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff


Recipe: Ras El Hanout / Za'atar Grilled Salmon

Printable version of recipe here

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ kg tail piece of salmon in two halves, filleted but skin left on
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
  • smoked sea slat, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons ras el hanout spice blend
  • 1/2 small dried chili, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons za’ater (Recipe below)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 3 springs each of rosemary, thyme and oregano

Method:

  1. You will be flavoring each of the salmon fillets with different ingredients. So to prepare the workspace line two baking trays with some thick, sturdy aluminum. Place one fillet on each of the baking trays, skin side down. Rub each fillet with the lemon pepper and smoked sea salt. Set aside.
  2. Marinade 1: Ras el Hanout - Mix the spice blend with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, crushed dried chili and two tablespoons olive oil. Rub the marinade on the fish, massaging it gently. Place the herbs on top and fold the aluminum foil over the fillet.
  3. Marinade 2: Za’atar - Mix the za’atar with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Rub the marinade on the fish, massaging it gently. Place the herbs on top and fold the aluminum foil over the fillet. Set both the fillets aside for about 15 minutes.
  4. Make sure the heat from the charcoal is not too high. If you are grilling other meats, like beef and lamb, it would be advisable to put these on the grill first. Once the heat has mellowed down, place the salmon, still wrapped in the foil on the grill, skin side down. Grill for about 8-10 minutes on the skin side then turn once and grill for a further 6-8 minutes.

Notes: To make your own za’atar at home: Gently roast about 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in a dry pan. Combine the sesame seeds with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon each dried marjoram, sumac, ground cumin and 1 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper in a blender and process until finely mixed. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Ras El Hanout, an exquisite spice blend from Morocco. You can find out more about the history and the 30 spices making up Ras El Hanout in my Food Guide  

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff


Verdict

Fall BBQ 2012 by Meeta K. Wolff

A divine meal shared with good friends on a glorious Autumn day. The candles flicker in the twilight and the air is filled with the sound of laughter and the unmistakable perfume of a barbecue reminiscent of a sweltering hot summer day. Wistfully we make promises of doing this again … next year when the seasons turn.

I am joining my lovely sister-from-another-mother at her Braai event Braai, the Beloved Country and bringing my Arabic flavored barbecue to join the party.

  Dubai Food Photography and Styling Workshop Update

Dubai Food Photography and Styling Workshop

There are only 4 spots available at the Dubai workshop this October. Very thrilled to see participants coming from Bahrain, Doha and Abu Dhabi. For those coming from out of town we have reserved rooms at the CORP Executive Al Khoory Hotel, which is conveniently located near the Miele Gallery at the Dubai World Trade Center.

If you are interested in securing the last few places on the workshop come visit the Workshop Website for more details and the contents of the 2-day course. Register here quickly and I hope to see you in Dubai.


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

33 comments :

  1. I love the aromas of charcoal too! Everything looks scrumptious and the pictures are gorgeous. I particularly like those chargrilled vegetables with the yogurt tahini sauce (I'm addicted to this tasty paste).

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Rosa, Thanks for your comment. Those charcoal aromas always makes me hungry and gets me excited for summer! You will love the vegetable dish!

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  2. Aaah - can always rely on my spicy sister to throw a divine party :) Like you, I also love the flavours that cooking on a grill can impart - and I love cooking fish on the braai! No reason to be scared of it - it's super simple! Also loving that grilled vegetable salad - so colourful and delicious. Thanks so much for joining in this event - look forward to the next time we can enjoy a braai together in the same country, around the same table!

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    1. Fish is awesome on the grill and whenever we have a really good piece it goes on the grill - even in the winter! Glad you are liking this spread Jeanne - just wish you could join us!

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  3. This is a menu I could sink my teeth into Meeta. Here in Canada we have been known to grill all year long, at least if we have a gas grill. Why waste even a sunny winter day.

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    1. You Canadians are resistant folk! We do sometimes throw the BBQ on in the Winter but only to quickly grill the goods and then run back in again! LOL!

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  4. Fabulous flavors mix up another perfectly wonderful Meeta themed party. I can just taste the complimentary spices and hints of the exotic. Hadn't thought of this combo with salmon. What a great idea!

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    1. You should try the blend on salmon. It flavors it brilliantly! I'd love to have you over Robin!

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  5. What a beautiful, colour spread Meeta! The outdoor setting is just lovely :)

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    1. Thanks!! It was such a perfect day with great food and friends!

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  6. Oh cool 3 recipes in one today and then too such a gorgeous combination of ingredients. I am for Arabic style dishes and to find a recipe here is really exciting Meeta.

    Thank you for passing over those useful grilling tips. Often I tend to forget to used a non stick pan even though is actually obvious and then I end up with a sticking fish on the pan. sigh... I ought to be more careful sometimes.

    Thanks again!

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    1. Yes i thought I would treat you. Glad the grilling tips help Helene - a little practice. Grilled fish is brilliant!

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  7. These look absolutely HEAVENLY. I am putting all of these on my to-cook list. Right up my street. Thanks!

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    1. Oh glad to hear that! Would love to hear how you liked the dishes. Enjoy!

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  8. Wow....lovely recipes...perfect to the season.....glorious...

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  9. Oh boy, these are exactly the dishes and flavors I love so much. Wish I could come over for a BBQ with you, Meeta!

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    1. Denise - well we just have to make that come true. A P2P reunion with a BBQ feast comes to mind!

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  10. I'm thrilled to have this recipe. I just bought za’ater and to be honest, I wasn't sure how to use it. This is perfect. Thanks!

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    1. El, you can use za'atar on chicken, on lamb, in soups, salads, breads and tarts. It's extremely versatile and lovely rustic herby flavors. Hope you enjoy it!

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  11. What a barbeque, but honestly I could make a meal just out of those chargrilled vegetables with garlic yogurt tahini!

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    1. Sylvie - yes I usually do just a good piece of pita bread and I am happy. But the rest was pretty darned delicious too ;o)

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  12. Thank you so much for these great recipes. We have been having some glorious fall weather here in northern Canada, too, and I'm not ready to put the barbecue away yet either. These dishes will be such fun to make. I can't wait.

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    1. Oh I do hope you enjoy this and the BBQ. Do come back and tell me what you thought!

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  13. With all these delicious foods, I don't mind bbqing at all in autumn :)

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    1. Yes it's the perfect meal for such warm Autumn days!

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  14. I wish I could say we are having a glorious end of summer here too but autumn seems to have hit in full force, so no more barbecues here for a while it seems. Still, I love autumn beginnings, the first time the heat is turned on, huddling indoors under my warm blanket reading a good book or watching a good movie... Not so bad either... Although... I would have loved to join your barbecue. That salmon looks amazing!

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    1. Yes Simone Autumn does have it#s lovely charms and I do love it ... it's just the dread of knowing Winter hides not far behind it!! I think these flavors here are just up your road.

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  15. Live life like king size, and this post has all of what it requires ...friends, barbecue, good food! That garlic yogurt tahini sauce and Tabouleh recipe are keepers. Loving the pictures...

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  16. That first table shot is magical! The colors and lightness - such an idyllic setting. And that salmon, yum!

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  17. I could eat that fish all on my own, amazing! I put za'atar everywhere, I love it!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta